When the Coronado Historical Association first began collecting COVID-inspired art from Coronado school children last spring, they had no idea how long the pandemic would go on. Eleven months later, the Coronado Historical Association, with the help of Coronado students, art teachers, and community members, unveils its newest exhibit, Coronado Responds: Student Artwork of the Pandemic.
The exhibit, featured online at www.coronadohistoryexhibit.org, features the art of many local students, including self-portraits of their emotions, views from outside their windows, abstracts, and more. In addition to viewing online, families can make appointments for private viewings of the exhibit in-person by visiting: http://calendly.com/vstone-1/30min.
Audrey Roberts, a fourth-grader at Village Elementary who submitted a self-portrait entitled Bored, says it’s important for kids to create art during COVID so they don’t get “sad.”
“I really felt like a hard worker when I was making it,” says Roberts. “Drawing makes me feel happy.”
That’s all part of the plan, according to Cyndi Fuhrmann, Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Teacher at Village Elementary. VAPA—which is funded by Coronado Schools Foundation—is a program focused on everything from artistic and creative perception to historical context and relationships.
“The onset of the pandemic was a challenging time because kids were really feeling worried, so the goal of my lessons was to help each student express their unique self,” says Fuhrmann. “We wanted to empower kids using their own creativity, and help them make some new worlds out of their imaginations, where they get to escape some of the things that were bothering them.”
According to Vickie Stone, Curator of Collections at the Coronado Historical Association, it became clear early in the pandemic that this time would become historically significant in the Coronado community and around the world.
“From an abandoned Orange Avenue to drive-by birthdays, this is a unique time for Coronado,” says Stone. “As the primary organization that documents Coronado’s history, CHA is committed to collecting and archiving historical moments. The stories and materials we collect allow all of us to study these experiences in the future. The exhibit, which pairs student artwork with community photos, is a way we can share these experiences.”
According to Stone, CHA volunteer Sharon Raffer encouraged a project compiling student writings, drawings, and photos about life during COVID. The idea quickly grew to become part of the art collection and community exhibition.
Fuhrmann says that she, along with Karrie Jackson, who oversees the VAPA program, and Gina Mirtallo, VAPA teacher at Strand Elementary, under the direction of Megan Battle, Coronado Unified School District Director of Learning, felt inspired to help children make sense of the complicated times through art.
“I know that these families were just like me, not knowing what was going on,” said Fuhrmann. “We are happy the kids and families embraced these art challenges with limited resources, even though I couldn’t be in the room, physically working with them.”
The CHA hopes that the exhibit will share the relatable and human moments of the pandemic, according to Stone.
“We hope that, by preserving authentic and meaningful stories, memories, and information about Coronado, future generations have a foundation on which to build, and know what it means to be a member of the community,” says Stone. “There is power in history and looking back.”
For more information about the exhibit or an in-person visit, contact Vickie Stone at [email protected], or call 619-435-7242.